On the Basis of Fashion

By Salma Falah

When you think about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, you think lawyer, Supreme Court Justice, mother, and wife. But what about fashionista? RBG dedicated her life to fighting for gender equality, and looked amazing doing it. This year we got to see Ginsburg on the big screen twice, in On the Basis of Sex and Notorious RBG. These two films highlighted different parts of her life, but they both gave justice to her timeless style.

Still from On the Basis of Sex, 2018

Still from On the Basis of Sex, 2018

Felicity Jones starred as Ruth Bader Ginsburg in On the Basis of Sex this fall. This film highlighted Ginsburg’s time as a law student and her career as a young lawyer. Growing up primarily in the 21st century, it is hard to imagine how sexist American society was when RBG was a young lawyer. In the fall of 1956, when Ruth began her time at Harvard Law, she was one of nine women in a class with 500 men. Watching a young Ruth walk into Harvard in a vibrant blue Dior power suit surrounded by typical black suits made that inherent sexism palpable. During this time, Ginsburg follows many of the ‘50s trends such as a beautiful emerald tea length swing dress for an elegant dinner and a plaid Peter Pan collared dress for class.

The film then jumps to the early ’70s and RBG’s wardrobe shifts with the times. Her style becomes a little funkier and more colorful, including the iconic Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress. What really caught my eye was her hair ties. You might have assumed that hair ties are for little kids, but after watching this film RBG will convince you that they are the coolest accessory yet. After watching the film, I even bought myself some. Even though RBG’s style evolved throughout the film, one thing remained constant: her wardrobe always perfectly combined trendiness and professionalism.

Still from On the Basis of Sex, 2018

Still from On the Basis of Sex, 2018

Photo courtesy of author

Photo courtesy of author

Photo courtesy of Supreme Court of the United States website

Photo courtesy of Supreme Court of the United States website

In Notorious RBG, a documentary about Ginsburg’s life, you see her personal style progress and evolve. In the film, she shows the many collars she wears with her Supreme Court Justice robe. As the second female Supreme Court Justice, Ginsburg explained that the standard black robe was created for a man, leaving a place by the neckline for a man's tie and shirt to show. RBG and Sandra Day O'Connor decided to add collars to their robes to represent their style. Ginsburg added an extra element of playfulness to each collar she wore by establishing a ‘majority opinion’ collar and a ‘dissenting opinion’ collar. Most would think there is no way to style a plain black robe, but RBG found one. In many points in her life, Ginsburg was the only woman in a room surrounded by men, all with their own preconceived notions about her. By adding small personal touches to all of her looks, she helped the world to see her idea of femininity: resiliency. So, are you struggling to find your “Co-op style”? Channel RBG.